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By the summer semester of , only 6, foreign students came to to study in Germany. This decrease in the absolute figures seems minimal in relation to the percentage of foreign students among the total number of students in Germany. This percentage remained constant at between 4 percent and 6 percent in the period from to Between and it doubled to approximately 10 percent. Nearly the same level was reached again in Only seven years later, however, by the summer semester of , the percentage had fallen back to the pre average of a mere 5 percent.

See Figure 2. These fluctuations can be explained primarily by the enormous expansion of the German university system after the late nineteenth century. In the two decades preceding the total number of students doubled from 40, in to around 80, in Between the mids and the early s the total rose from 90, to about , On the one hand, this growth was the result of certain demographic changes; on the other, it reflected the availability of university-level education to a broader proportion of society.

Around the turn of the century only 10 in 1, to year-olds were students. By the proportion had risen to See Figure 3. In only one percent of all foreign students enrolled at German universities were American four students. This figure fell to a mere 5 percent ca.

Carl Diehl attributes the decrease after to the fact that "most of the pioneers of the American university had been educated by then" and that "by that year several graduate schools had begun to compete with the German universities. In "it was estimated that a year of study in Germany was cheaper by a third than a year at Hopkins, Harvard, or Cornell, and this estimate included the cost of travel.

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Beginning in the mids the frequency of Russian students studying in Germany surpassed that of the Americans. In the decade between and the number of Russians rose from to 1,, an increase of percent.


By the summer semester of this number had again doubled, to 2, The foreign student total amounted to 7. Russian students were mostly concentrated in medical and technical subjects. Of the approximately 2, Russian students enrolled for the academic year of , more than half were studying medicine at larger German universities. At the beginning of the century approximately 2, foreign students were enrolled at technical universities. Of this total, over were Russian 46 percent.

In , of a total of 2, foreign students were Russian 24 percent. In addition, during the inflationary period following World War I, the largest group of newly registered students were from Eastern European countries. This total fell from 2, to in following years.

An examination of the development of the worldwide total of foreign students shows an increase from approximately 20, to 70, between and Although these figures seem rather modest in comparison to those of the post-World War II era, the decisive changes in the international distribution of foreign students occurred before Most important, universities in France and the United States became more desirable destinations for students, whereas Germany's popularity fell.

See Figure 4. At the beginning of the twentieth century well over half of the 20, students studying abroad were found in German-speaking countries. Ten years later, just before the outbreak of World War I, the distribution was similar, with one-fourth of the 30, international students in Germany and another fourth in Switzerland and Austria. By , however, Germany had lost its position as the leading destination for international students. One-fourth of all international students now went to France to study, and 15 percent were being drawn to the United States.

Primarily students from the "most important countries of origin" i. The estimated 10, Chinese students studying abroad had passed over Germany "almost without a trace.

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Breaking down the total of international students according to region of origin demonstrates that the stream of European students - in contrast to the prewar period - was now directed toward France. At 2,, the number of European students in the United States already was half that of European students studying in Germany. The most important destination for Asian students was the United States, due to the scholarship program set up in the context of reparations payments for the Boxer Rebellion. In approximately 4, - almost half of all Asian international students - studied in the United States, around 2, studied in France and England, respectively, and only studied in Germany.

The levels reached after the turn of the century were maintained - with minor fluctuations - through the s. The drastic reduction in the number of foreigners studying in Germany after from 10 percent to 5 percent was the result of the national expansion of the university system. If the number of foreign students in Germany is viewed in comparison to the global total of international students, German universities seem to have begun losing their importance by It is in this context that I will examine the criteria under which the eligibility of foreign students for university studies in Germany was determined.

Standardization of Prerequisites for University Study In order to address this issue properly, the particularities of the German educational system must be identified. Therefore, preparation for university studies began with the lower classes of the Gymnasium. In light of this fact, it is not surprising that the question of the equivalence of foreign forms of certification to the German Abitur remained largely "undefined and veritably without rule" until The mutual recognition of the Reifezeugnisse qualifying certificates of the Gymnasium by the states of the future German Empire was first achieved in the years and According to discussions held within the framework of German university conferences, the arbitrary and politically motivated decisions regarding eligibility and acceptance were at first directed against the growing number of Russian applicants.

This was later augmented by concern about the declining international reputation of German universities, particularly due to an influx of insufficiently qualified American applicants. After the s growing numbers of "Russians, mostly of Polish-Galician-Jewish origin" flowed into German universities. Restricted "for the most part to medical or technical studies in their own country by the Russian civil servant laws," they had been "forced to leave the country by the numerus clausus and the pogroms.

The issue of a numerus clausus for Russian students was discussed at the university conference of September The Foreign Ministry pointed out that such a regulation would be in violation of Article 1 of the German-Russian Trade Agreement of , which stipulated that citizens of each country would have equal status in the other.

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In order to avoid a violation, a numerus clausus of , "not to be exceeded by any nation" was created for all universities combined: "Because only Russia is in excess of the numerus clausus, the implementation of the rule will be restricted to Russian students and will take the following form: The individual universities will be instructed to allow no further enrollment as long as the numbers of Russian students are in excess of the quota of That German interests are involved is a result of the fact that American students have repeatedly come to Germany and, after a few semesters, completed a German doctoral degree without having the same previous education that would be required for a doctorate in America.

In this manner, the German doctorate has been highly discredited in America, and the destructive effects of this misuse can already be seen there. At the same time, the best students continuously shy away from coming to Germany for their doctoral examinations because they have found that they are not given sufficient credit toward their degree for their previous work at American universities.

The result is "that the exceptionally high reputation previously enjoyed by German universities in America is steadily declining.

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Perhaps they studied entirely in their homeland, perhaps they spent a few years in Paris or in Oxford, but it has already become dogma for them that the German doctoral degree is worthless, that academia in Germany has been lamed by pettiness and pedantry, and that the great academic stimulation stems from England and France, and most of all, from America. In the Prussian administration offered its assistance to the university conference in "developing a consistent rule for determining. At the beginning of the twentieth century the "completely inconsistent and unchecked admission of annually increasing numbers of foreign students to the universities and technical institutes in the German Empire" served as the "impetus" toward efforts to "develop consistent guidelines for the admission of foreigners and surveying the eligibility requirements for foreign students in all the German states.

With an ordinance from April 25, , even before the wave of foreign applicants during the inflationary period, the Prussian Ministry of Science, Art, and National Education nullified all previous eligibility requirements and centralized the authority to decide on all admissions applications.


The "fruit of thirteen years of research," 40 this study included a list of nations from Abyssinia to the United States in alphabetical order, with information concerning "the structure of the educational systems of each country and the evaluation of their certificates.

The original goal of the study had been to compile of a sort of "registry of foreign certificates," including an "evaluation of every foreign institute whose graduates came to German universities. This sort of register cannot be compiled at the present time. Particularly the countries of Eastern Europe, which send the greatest number of students to German universities, have no orderly school and university systems," making a general evaluation of transcripts seem impossible.

Remme's study was attached to the circular for the decentralization of the decision on foreign enrollment applications "for confidential official use" 43 and was adopted by the other states of the German Empire. In six points, he summarized their structural principles as the "minimum requirements for the acceptance of the certificate of foreign higher schooling":. Austria, Luxembourg, Sweden, and Switzerland are the only countries whose higher schools are of a type to be considered equivalent to those in Germany.

Even in these countries, however, a complete nine-year course of study like the German system is not to be found. The certificates of foreign applicants were divided into four hierarchical groups.

For this purpose, all types of certification were considered, not only graduation certificates. Although in each case the institutions were evaluated individually, this evaluation ignored their unique characteristics, subordinating them to a universalized German pattern. This resulted in a hierarchy of institutions that were artificially integrated into the German system. Each institution's certification was then classified according to the German standards and assigned to one of four groups.

Also assigned to this group were certificates that qualified the holder for university level studies "in the respective country, only after the fulfillment of further conditions" preparatory courses, etc. Into Group II fell such certificates requiring further preparation, as in Group I, in cases where the applicant had not completed the preparatory coursework required for German universities.

In such cases, the student was allowed to enroll for two years on a probationary basis; the work done in this time would generally not be applied toward a degree.

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Students in Group III were allowed restricted enrollment as "auditors"; "limited to the faculty of philosophy". This group included applicants from foreign vocational schools or with a middle- average level certificate. No credit was given for previous coursework. Before students were allowed to enroll with regular student status in Germany they would have to pass an entrance examination. Students assigned to Group II also had the opportunity to take such an examination instead of going through the probationary period.